Wisnicki loses commission seat

Kathy Wisnicki

The campaign manager for council candidate Laura Rosenthal missed too many meetings of the Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission.

By Jonathan Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times

Former Board of Education member and 2008 City Council candidate Kathy Wisnicki stepped down from the Parks and Recreation Commission after missing eight of 10 meetings last year. She resigned in November and was replaced on the commission Monday night by Malibu native Carl Randall.

Wisnicki, who is managing the Malibu City Council election campaign for friend and political ally Laura Rosenthal, said in an interview on Monday that three of her absences from the monthly meetings were due to her mother’s illness and eventual death, two dealt with events involving her son, one was for a friend’s graduation, one fell on spring break and another was because she had to go to a choir practice.

She said she resigned in November “because I had missed so many meetings, the city should have the opportunity to appoint a new commissioner.”

But Wisnicki did not have to offer her resignation since by city law she had vacated her seat by missing too many meetings. The municipal code states that if a Parks and Recreation commissioner misses three consecutive meetings or six in one calendar year, “the office of such member shall be deemed vacated.”

Wisnicki was an appointee of Councilmember John Sibert, who narrowly defeated her in the 2008 council election. His new appointment, Randall, was the lone applicant for the position. Randall is the son of longtime community activists Carol and Carl Randall. The elder Carl Randall died in 2002.

At least one Parks and Recreation commissioner noticed Wisnicki’s repeated nonattendances. Paul Spiegel submitted a letter to City Manager Jim Thorsen in October stating that Wisnicki’s position should be vacated due to her violation of the city ordinance. Thorsen did not respond to the letter until he was called by Spiegel the next month.

Spiegel said Winsicki’s absences were frustrating because when she was appointed to the commission in 2008, her colleagues had agreed to change the meeting day to accommodate her schedule, as she was still a member of the school board. He said it is important to have all five members at every meeting. Her infrequent attendance made it so there was usually a maximum of four people. Spiegel said this created a situation where items up for a vote could potentially reach a 2-2 stalemate. However, this never did actually happen. Three times this year not enough commissioners showed up to hold an official meeting.

Spiegel said in an interview on Monday that he felt the process to remove Wisnicki and finding a replacement was too slow. He said Thorsen told him it was taking awhile because he had to deal with the Regional Water Quality Control Board‘s septic ban proposal.

“I was very frustrated the city hadn’t taken any action to fill the seat,” Spiegel said. “And it seems to me if while there’s a big issue like the water quality and sewer issue … other parts of the city aren’t going to function, well that’s a dysfunctional city.”

A notice to find a replacement was posted at City Hall on Dec. 1. Thorsen said in an interview on Monday it is “very common that it will take a few months or longer whenever there is a vacancy on a commission to find a replacement and make that appointment.”

After Sibert appointed Randall and briefly stated the reason for Wisnicki’s resignation, Mayor Sharon Barovsky said she wanted an investigation done regarding an unnamed commissioner who she said had missed four consecutive meeting. Thorsen responded that the situation for that person was not the same as Wisnicki because the unnamed commissioner had called the city prior to missing each meeting.